Overcoming the Obstacles, Part 4
Learning to overcome obstacles and roadblocks is vital to living in God’s peace, joy, and confidence. Simply stated, life happens! We rarely have control over day-to-day events; we learn to trust God, keep our eyes on Him, and move forward.
Ever try and start your car on the way to work or an important appointment only to have the car not start? Yep, the makings of a challenging day! But as we live in Christ, abiding in His presence and peace, obstacles and trials are opportunities for His joy to sustain us.
Trusting God and His promises is important to overcoming obstacles. You need faith to apprehend the promise! But what do you do when circumstances and time seem to hinder God’s promise? One of the tensions in God’s kingdom is simply that not all prayers are answered in our timing or as we think they should be. I want to examine this today in greater detail. Let us pick up with Joshua and how he overcame obstacles on his way to the Promised Land.
Overcoming the Obstacles, Principles from Joshua’s Success (Josh. 1:1-11)
Why did Joshua succeed? What were the key factors that enabled him to overcome the obstacles in his way? Joshua’s heart attitude provides some of the answers.
God formed Joshua’s perspective, and challenges did not hinder his perception of the promises. He wasn’t swayed by bad news or circumstances. Nor did he allow unforgiveness, judgment, and bitterness to affect his heart attitude or perspective.
What had God promised Joshua?
Josh. 1:4, “From the wilderness … to the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.” God already gave the land of Canaan to the children of Israel. Joshua and the people had to determine how much land they would go in and occupy. It was theirs by faith, and it happened when they decided to act in obedience.
Joshua’s faith and courage opened the door to receive the fulfillment of promises and make history. The Israelites had to cross the river Jordan and take the gift God offered.
As God promised, they had to tread with the “sole of their feet” upon the land they desired to receive from God. They had to look past the walled cities and giants that were in the land—these were mere obstacles on the road to receiving their inheritance.
God’s Word is for you, and you can receive it as though He spoke it to you personally. Your only requirement is to believe and act on His promises by faith.
The promises of Scripture create action in a believing heart. There is a divine principle: “Seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened.”
Every promise of Scripture is intended to provoke us to action.
What has God promised? How much of His kingdom is available? How much have you made up your mind to have? There are realms available in God’s kingdom that can only be achieved as you determine to possess and occupy the territory with God.
Faith and courage develop through our union and relationship with God and His Word. As we grow in our heart understanding of God, trust deepens and confidence in His promises develops. As we examined with Joshua last week, faith deepens from a place of love and intimacy with God.
Many Doubt God’s Promises Due to Three Primary Areas: Circumstances, Feelings, and Time.
Do you remember the story of Jesus walking on the water to the disciples on the stormy sea? As Jesus approached their boat, they feared, supposing Jesus was a ghost. But Peter says, “Lord, if it’s you, bid me to come.” Jesus says, “Come!” Peter steps out of the boat and begins to walk on the water – until he saw the storm-tossed waves and began to doubt. Jesus rescues him, asks him why his faith was small, and why did he doubt? The circumstances caused Peter to miss the opportunity to do the impossible with Jesus.
Like Peter, our circumstances try to blur the power of God’s promises to us. We hear His Word, believe, and perhaps act upon it – only to discover we begin to doubt as the circumstances cloud His Word. But as trust deepens with the Lord, we become more confident to stand assured during storms and trials knowing, “God has this!”
Often, our feelings, sometimes driven by circumstances, affect our belief in God’s promises.
Scripture tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV) Yet many doubt God’s love for them. They may feel unworthy of His love, or that they have “gone too far” for God to ever love them. They are basing their opinion on their feelings, not what His Word says.
Some doubt they are “saved” because they do not “feel saved.” Perhaps a voice whispers to them, “If you were saved, why did you just sin?” Yet God’s Word says clearly, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”(Rom. 10:9-10 NKJV, see also 1 John 5:11-12) God wants to mature us, to conform us into the image of Jesus, but we are justified by faith and growing in Christ as we continue to walk with Him.
Some doubt they can hear from God. Yet Jesus promises “My sheep hear My voice …” (John 10:10 NKJV)
Some doubt God’s desire to heal. Yet God’s Word declares, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb 13:8 NKJV) Jesus, who is the exact representation of the Father, “… went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him…” (Acts 10:38 NKJV)! This same Jesus, conquered sin, disease, and death on the cross. With His resurrection, He is still healing today. Some believe He heals but doubt He would heal them. He is the same yesterday, today & forever!
Process. As we go through God’s process over time, some begin to doubt God’s vision for their lives.
We read of Joseph that God sent him to Egypt, and kept him in prison, “…until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.” (Psalm 105:17-19 NKJV) God sent Joseph, and it was God that kept him in prison!
Joseph was tested by the very revelation and calling God had in his life, until it was time for the release of his ministry and calling!
Delay. Delay causes many to doubt or give up on God’s promises. Consider that Joshua waited 40 years before he could enter the Promised Land! Paul wrote,
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.” Romans 5:3 NLT
Through delay, endurance builds, and faith strengthens. We also inherit the promises through faith and patience (Heb. 6:12). Patience during delay undergirds faith as we wait for God’s promise. Also, be open to God moving in a different way than you expect, and do not doubt as He delays!
Unanswered Promises. Hebrews 11 describes the faith of godly heroes, ordinary people who went before us and trusted God in difficult circumstances.
Toward the end of the chapter, the Holy Spirit reveals something to us through their lives: not all of them saw their desires fulfilled on this side of eternity. They died in faith holding on to the promises God gave them, “All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised” (Heb. 11:39 NLT).
One of the tensions in God’s kingdom is simply that not all prayers are answered, not all dreams are fulfilled, some people suffer as they follow God, and some leave earth with promises “unrealized.” Consider Jacob being told to go to Egypt,
I am God, the God of your father,” the voice said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again. You will die in Egypt, but Joseph will be with you to close your eyes.” Gen. 46:3-4 NLT
God promises Jacob that his family will become a great nation in Egypt. But notice that God never mentions to him that his descendants will be in Egypt 400 years as slaves! Further, Jacob will not see the fulfillment of God’s promise, he would pass on in Egypt as God said. Some promises are not realized, or seen by us, this side of eternity. Prophecy helps us see, but we know in part and must trust God with what we do not understand. God does not reveal everything to us or to prophetic voices—again, we know in part and see in part.
I know firsthand the disappointment of prayer that seems unanswered. I lost both of my parents to cancer—despite our family praying for their healing. Jesus is still the healer, but for reasons we do not understand, their healing came in their passing to eternity. The greater eternal reality is that through faith in Jesus and resurrection hope in Him, my family and I will see them again.
You must be confident that despite seasons of seeming contradiction to God’s nature and promises, God is always good. When you can declare like Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15 NKJV), you have reached a place of enduring faith in God that will sustain you through all of life’s situations.
There are times when we can be confident that we know the will of God, pray in faith, and stand firmly on God’s promise, but the prayer is not answered when or as we anticipate. Perhaps you are praying for a financial breakthrough or healing miracle, only to lose a job, end up bankrupt, or like me, lose a loved one to disease.
Whatever your demanding situation, it is imperative that you believe God is good and can trust Him unreservedly. Keep your focus on Jesus and trust in your future resurrection—this is the foundational hope of every Christian.
Some situations and circumstances simply cannot be explained in life. Promises and dreams seem unfulfilled at times, as we read in Hebrews 11. Do not let your love grow cold or allow your heart to become bitter toward God. Trust Him always—it is wrong to assume we understand all the ways and mysteries of God.
Many have walked away from Jesus due to the “mystery of faith” when circumstances seem to contradict His Word and nature. Remember God loves us, even when we do not understand His ways. His thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isa. 55:8-9).
Steps we can take to combat the “doubts” in our lives!
Intimacy with the Lord. Everything stems from this. If we are not close and intimate with Him, we begin to lose the “peace of His presence,” which can give way to doubt and fear.
Worship, Prayer, and Word—Actively Seek Intimacy with Him!
Guard your mind. When doubts assail, remind yourself of God’s promises to you. Our circumstances, our soul, and the enemy will try to make us doubt. Paul tells us to
cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:5 NKJV
The devil tries to get us to doubt the love and faithfulness of God—do not let your mind go there! Pursue the renewing of your mind, desire to have the mind of Christ. The more we become like Jesus, the quicker we can cast down the doubts!
Guard your Mouth. Often when we are going through difficult times, we begin to murmur and complain against God and His promises. Be careful! Do not blame God or accuse others!
Be mindful of what God has spoken over your life. Paul told Timothy to “wage a good warfare by the prophecies that were given to him.” (1 Tim. 1:18 NKJV)
Mix confirmed and tested prophetic words with faith! Pray in agreement with what God has spoken over your life and ministry. Write down your vision and pray over it!
Remain in Fellowship. Stay close to other believers, encourage one another continually. There is strength in unity. Despite COVID-19, be creative with ways to stay connected with others.
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Heb. 10:24-25 NKJV
Rest and Nutrition. Our bodies need proper rest, nutrition, and exercise. During difficult or stressful times, this is even more true. When we get run down, we are more prone to doubt. Consider Elijah in 1 Kings 19:4-8, he was ready to give up. But as the angel came, brought food and he rested, he was ready to hear from the Lord once again and move forward to overcome the obstacles.
Stir up the gifts. Paul told Timothy, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2 Tim. 1:6 NIV) We have a responsibility to keep the fire in our souls stirred! Pray continually, pray in the Spirit daily! Pray and declare His Word, prophecy His promise!
I’ll continue next week with Overcoming the Obstacles Part 5 from Joshua 1. Have an overcoming week; Jesus is in charge!
For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “Overcoming the Obstacles, Part 4”